Reflections on a rousing 2015 Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day!

On February 17, 2015, 650 of our closest friends and allies from all across the state of Washington gathered in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day to speak up for affordable housing and an end to homelessness. Driven by an enthusiastic and cheerful bus driver, we headed to Olympia at 7:15 a.m. with 30 Coalition members and friends –  service providers, clients, residents, guests, and others. For some, it was their first time to Olympia and an introduction to advocacy in action. Others were veterans of HHAD. Everyone on the Advocacy Express bus was rearin’ and ready to make a difference, and that they did! The Coalition’s Advocacy Express bus rolled up right on time to the morning activities, and found inspiration from the first of many speakers that day. Housing Alliance staff, State legislators, and superstar Real Change vendor Pam Russell all spoke how POWERFUL we housing advocates are when we speak up and act together. It’s because of our collective action and advocacy that the Document Recording Fee bill came back from the dead last session, remember! Our rally at the Capitol steps was a sight to be seen (and heard!). We were inspired by the voices around us. People who have experienced homelessness personally, service providers, representatives from advocacy organizations, students, community members, and people from all walks of life from all over the state were represented as we chanted from the steps through the buildings of the Capitol: “When they say ‘cutback’ we say fightback!” “Get up, get down, there’s a housing crisis in this town.” We were a sea of 650 people wearing red scarves, red shirts, red hats, and many people wore our One Night Count ‘3772’ and Student Homelessness ‘32,494’ buttons. Even as folks dispersed into their legislative district groups, we were unified and unmistakable throughout the halls of the Capitol. Each button and …

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No Shelter: Counting the Homeless in Seattle by Mary Anne Mercer

We are all in the Huffington Post, thanks to a superb essay by Mary Anne Mercer. She writes about homelessness and inequality, and how tragedy becomes normalized. To every One Night Count Team Captain and volunteer who makes guests welcome, and keeps our community’s count safe, respectful, and accurate ~ thank you.  No Shelter: Counting the Homeless in Seattle (originally published 02/04/2015) It was three AM. I was walking down a street in one of Seattle’s toniest neighborhoods with my 25-year-old daughter and another young woman. We were part of Seattle/King County’s One Night Count of the homeless, a massive effort to document the number of “unsheltered” persons on a random winter night, after the shelters had closed their doors. It was my first time, but fortunately my companions were veterans of working with homeless populations. We spent the next two hours covering specified streets and alleys, peering behind trash cans and into parked cars, doorways and little park-like spaces. The effort, a project of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, was carried out by nearly 1100 volunteers who spent a few early morning hours documenting the men, women and children who had no indoor shelter. It was a clear, cool January night. We strolled past glittering display windows for the many new condominiums and apartment buildings in the area — brightly lit, elegant showrooms with upscale décor and expensive furniture, plush sofas and carpets. As we moved past a low wall lined with manicured shrubbery, I glanced at a long mound covered by black plastic, nestled under the greenery. The three of us stopped, and suddenly I heard the faint sounds of a popular song. I jumped, and looked over at my daughter, who nodded knowingly. Yes, there was someone under that makeshift shelter, and they were doing what many young …

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Youth & Young Adults Committee 12/9 recap: Survival Sex Workshop

Last Tuesday about 50 community members gathered at the Coalition’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (YYAC) monthly meeting to share in a powerful workshop about Survival Sex facilitated Queer Youth Community Organizing Interns TJ Petrik and Jackie Sandberg from PSKS.  (These two participated in the YYAC’s Youth Advocacy Summit this year, and it was great to reconnect!) As a topic that is very prevalent in the lives of many in our community, but not discussed as much as it should be, it was good to share this conversation with service providers, case workers, advocates, and more so everybody could get tips for how to share important information with those they work with. Some highlighted tips for service providers: Find full list of tips from TJ and Jackie here Survival Sex can loosely be defined as “needs-based sexual activity” and is often traded for assurance of safety, a place to stay, money, protection, and drugs among other reasons. Needs based sexual activities are very complex and personal, and are especially prevalent among homeless youth and LGBTQ youth. Service providers can and should provide information and resources about sex work while being sensitive to those they are serving. Many people may not be open about sharing so it is important to make sure everyone knows that resources are available by using space in your facility to educate people via fliers, events, and non-derogatory language. It was suggested by many in the room that one approach for intake workers and service providers to share information would be by asking: “Would you or anyone you know like information about resources for those involved in survival sex.”  Asking questions such as this allow space for individuals to access resources without having to disclose personal information. When working with a young person who’s engaged in needs-based sex work, it’s important to discuss risk reduction. …

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Severe Weather Shelter in King County

Updated Severe Weather Shelter locations around King County can be found below. Please note that other Winter Shelters are also opened nightly and Severe Weather Shelters (listed below) are usually open when the weather is below freezing.  Please visit the Crisis Clinic Resource Talk Shelter page to see the most updated list of Winter Shelters around the county as well as information about Severe Weather Shelters. This post will be frequently updated with the most recent information. If you know of new or updated information please contact hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org. _________________________________________________________________________ SEVERE WEATHER SHELTERS – Updated 1/5/2014 Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here.  SEATTLE: Severe Weather Shelter – Print This Flyer Location: Seattle Center Rainier Room: 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, 98109 (next to Key Arena) Date & Time: Closed The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff. The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required. AUBURN: Veteran’s Memorial Park  Location: William C. Warren Building: 405 E St NE, Auburn, 98002  Date & Time: Closed Phone: (253) 876 – 1925 Les Gove Overnight Shelter  Location: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way, Auburn, 98002 (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library) Date & Time: Closed Phone: (253) 876 – 1925 KENT: Kent Lutheran Church Location: 336 2nd Ave S, Kent, 98032  Date & Time: Closed Phone: (253) 856 – 5070 FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship Location: 31411 6th Ave S, Federal Way, 98003  Date & Time: Closed Phone: (253) 269 – 6585                                                RENTON: Cold Weather Shelter Location: …

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Single Adults Advocacy Committee: Report back from 25 Cities Initiative + Coordinated Entry for Single Adults

The most recent Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting on Thursday, October 9 was focused on our community’s involvement in the national 25 Cities Initiative, designed to reduce homelessness among veterans and people who are chronically homeless. With that included how ’25 Cities’ relates to coordinated entry for single adults, and how we can be good informants and advocates as these policies, programs, and budgets are developed. Kelli Larsen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Plymouth and a Design Team member for the 25 Cities Initiative, led us in conversation.  Here’s a brief report of what was discussed… The 25 Cities Initiative is in the twenty-five cities where Veteran Homelessness is highest. Goal is to end homelessness, and, locally, we know that a single solution – just increase housing, or just coordinate the stock we have – is not enough. Within this goal is a focus on creating and implementing a single adults coordinated entry, much like has happened with families (Family Housing Connection) and youth (Youth Housing Connection). This is not an easy, straightforward or simple task: the single adults population is much, much larger and still very diverse. Officially, the four principles guiding this complex coordinated entry process are: (1) assess, (2) assist, (3), match, and (4) place. More loosely, leads on this project want to ensure that the system they create and implement is simple, meets real needs, and has true benefits (that eclipse any inherent negatives). An example of the complexity is that it is not possible to screen thousands of single adults who are homeless, and perform regular check-ins. Our community has learned (and is still learning a lot) from the successes, complications, and frustrations associated with YHC and FHC. Plus, we want to be sure to coordinate the coordination that already exists. SAAC explored important elements of a coordinated entry system for single adults, as …

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